The greatness of Carl Schmitt as a political theoretician is to have exposed mercilessly the utter incompatibility of liberal principles with parliamentary institutions. The political core of liberalism, Schmitt argues, is the principle of homo homini lupus (man is a wolf to man), the grim reality of the Hobbesian bellum omnium contra omnes (the war of all against all). The bitter pursuit of self-interest - or possessive individualism, which is the cardinal principle of liberalism - will lead inexorably and inevitably to civil war: - this is a reality that we are confronting right now all over the world, within nation-states and between nation-states. Because of this, the only way to avoid the annihilation of human society is for self-interested individuals to elect a Sovereign with plenipotentiary powers - in essence, an Absolutist State, a Monarch with all powers concentrated in his person - a veritable Deus mortalis (mortal God). - And again, this is what we are witnessing with the slow and excruciating death of Western liberal parliamentary regimes as the powers of Parliament are taken over by individual Leaders (from Presidents to Prime Ministers) who are elected increasingly in a plebiscitary manner - directly by "the people", as in the US or France or through "primaries" organised by political parties.
What we are witnessing, then, is the agonising demise of parliamentary regimes in favour of "strong leaders" who answer only to "the people" without any of the "mediating" functions served previously up to now by institutions such as Parliament, political parties, and last but not least "the media" or Public Opinion. Already, Jurgen Habermas had signalled but not fully realised the epochal implications of this "structural transformation of public opinion" in the early 1960s. But it was Johann Agnoli with his "The Transformation of Democracy" who truly alerted us to the slow death of Parliaments and Political Parties.
Yet, somewhat surprisingly, the one work that most incisively and penetratingly as well as insightfully perceived the full implications of this decline of Western bourgeois liberal parliamentary regimes, and specifically of Political Parties, was that of the French sociologist Maurice Duverger with his masterful study on "Les Partis Politiques" dating back to 1969. In essence, the explicit aim of Duverger’s great study was to trace the decline of political parties in the second post-war period, once the Communist threat was contained through the Marshall Plan and through Stalinist legacies and, therefore, bourgeois Christian-Democrat parties could return to their pre-war role of “administering the State” on behalf of the bourgeoisie. Yet in reality, Morin’s political historical genius extended far beyond this explicit aim because his study also traces the history of the birth of parliamentary regimes and of political parties in particular out of the old European Absolutist States, especially in France, but extending to Germany and Britain.
What Duverger demonstrates – quite extraordinarily without almost being aware of doing this – is that “the party system” that has kept alive Western liberal parliamentary regimes was really simply an escamotage by the old landed, but increasingly capitalist aristocracy that governed under the rule of monarchs the Absolutist States that emerged out of the feudal system – an escamotage by this freshly embourgeoisified (to coin a horrible term) aristocracy to contain and control the emergence of revolutionary workers’ parties at the time of the Second Industrial Revolution from the mid-1850s. And the new bourgeoisie achieved this goal of containment by devising a parliamentary façade of political representation while all the time retaining control of political power through (a) the imponent bureaucracies established by the monarchic feudal Absolutist States, and, (b) quite obviously, through the military complex. This union of bureaucracy and military – which constituted a major focus of Max Weber’s studies of the modern bourgeois State – constitutes what we may call a Deep State that controls and moderates “the alternation” of Labour/Socialist and Liberal/Conservative parties and their governments in Western bourgeois parliamentary regimes.
Furthermore, this Deep State leads to the further concentration of decision-making power into the hands of increasingly stronger Executives (Presidencies and Prime Ministerships) that, first, supplement the de-legitimisation of parliamentary regimes due to their growing political ineffectiveness and impotence, but, second, lead to the further de-legitimisation of the parliamentary systems dependent on ever-weaker political party electoral representation!
This sociological thesis and its political denouement advanced by Duverger had already been prophesied by Carl Schmitt in his pioneering studies of the 1920s and 30s – The Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy, and Dictatorship. (For a similar study applied to the US, see C. Rossiter, Constitutional Dictatorship. I take the liberty to refer to my own study, FDR and the New Deal.)
The same applies of course to economic “laws” based as they must be on the notion of property (the individual claim to social resources), individual labours or utility (as the subjective individual ethical basis for property rights), and exchange (as the foundation of market prices and commerce). All economic science is based on the “exchange” of pro-ducts between individuals. But “exchange” implies by definition the existence of property rights possessed by individuals over the pro-ducts that they are meant “to exchange”. As we have shown, however, for Hobbes no such property “rights” can exist outside of the State; and they cannot constitute therefore an objective scientific basis or an ideal ethical basis for the science of “economics”. For this very reason, the